Bible Question:

I am writing about the wonderful article “Once Saved Always Saved. ” In Philippians 2:12-13, I once saw on the Internet that the line “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” is not correct. In the Greek version, it reads, “Work out your own salvation with fear and exaltation. ” This meaning isn't about judgment but the opposite. Then connect it with verse 13, “for it is God who works in you both to will and do of his good pleasure. ” When you read the verses this way, it makes more sense. Have you heard this before?

Bible Answer:

The phrase “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” occurs at the end of the first verse in Philippians 2:12.

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; (NASB) Philippians 2:12

The Greek word that is translated as “fear” is PHOBOS and it means “to fear” or “to be terrorized.” The Greek word for “trembling” is TROMOS and it means “trembling, quaking (from fear), and quivering.” It refers to “shaking, as an outward sign of fear or of being seized with great awe” (Friberg Lexicon). The Greek word for “work out” is KATERGAZOMAI and means “to achieve or to accomplish.” This is the verb and it is a present tense command. If we put all of this together, we discover the New American Standard Bible (NASB), New International Version (NIV), and New King James Bible (NKJV) have accurately translated the Greek into English. What you found on the Internet was in error.


The message of Philippians 2:12-13 is that God expects us to believe Him, to pursue holiness with all our heart, and to sacrificially submit ourselves to Him. God wants us to be serious about these things. He is not interested in a cold faith and belief. Ultimately, God is the one who really helps us do all of this,

. . . for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. (NASB) Philippians 2:13

God is working in us through circumstances, trials, and others. The Holy Spirit also helps us live the Christian life. But we need to ask Him to help us live a godly life. May the Lord bless your studies.

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